Avian Influenza Surveillance in Kenai Fjords National Park 2009
Avian influenza viruses, frequently called avian flu or bird flu, occur naturally and are common among domestic poultry and some wild birds, especially waterfowl and shorebirds. Avian flu viruses mainly infect birds. In rare instances, these viruses can be passed to other animals and people. The virus is passed through infected bird fecal droppings, saliva, and nasal discharges. Asian H5N1 Avian Influenza virus began in Southeast Asia causing death in domestic poultry and in some domestic and wild birds. In rare cases, people have caught Avian H5N1 from domestic poultry and become very ill or died. To date, highly-pathogenic H5N1 has not been detected anywhere in Alaska or on the American continent. http://www.pandemicflu.alaska.gov/avianflu/default.htm
This summer in Kenai Fjords National Park, we are conducting several coastal bird surveys:
- Marine Nearshore Vital Signs monitoring including marine bird and mammal surveys will be conducted in June along the entire coast of the park.
- RM staff and seabird biologists from the Alaska Maritime National Wildlife Refuge will conduct joint surveys of seabird breeding colonies along the park coast in early July.
- Throughout the summer, the coastal law enforcement rangers and RM personnel will be surveying beaches for dead birds as part of the Coast Observation And Seabird Survey Team (COASST). COASST is a citizen science program of the University of Washington in partnership with state, tribal and federal agencies, environmental organizations, and community groups (http://depts.washington.edu/coasst/). Beaches surveyed monthly in summer include: Bulldog Cove, North Verdant, Pedersen, Northwestern Spit, James Lagoon, and Yalik Glacier.
During all of these surveys and whenever park personnel are on the coast, they are on the look-out for dead and injured birds.
Last year, survey teams found just one dead seabird, a juvenile glaucous-winged gull, at Pedersen Lagoon during a regular COASST survey. The bird had apparently been killed by a large raptor.
This year if any unusual bird mortality events occur in the park, updated information will be posted to the website.
Remember, if you find a dead bird in the park without evidence of obvious death by physical injury (e.g., bird hit your window), please contact: Chief of Resource Management: Shelley Hall (907) 224-7539.